Thanksgiving is a time of being where it's warm, and looking out of the window at the cold - and being thankful that it's not the other way around. Many are now preparing for an approaching season of family, friends and loved ones, food and warmth, cannabis and pleasant experiences, celebrating a celebration which legend says, took place in November of 1621.
Cannabis would not have been present at the first Thanksgiving, although the settlers of Jamestown brought hemp to the North American colonies in 1611 to cultivate for fiber. It wasn't until eight years after the first Turkey Day that cannabis was introduced in New England. And if we're going to be reasonably authentic, we should probably call it Duck Day, or Goose Day, as these were more likely the preferred wildfowl.
The actual meal served was heavy on meat, with sparse crops and scavanged produce in place of more familiar foodstuffs - pumpkin, but no flour, so no pie, maybe cranberries, but no cranberry sauce (no sugar). The number of people at the feast numbered around 150, so anything that could be dragged back to Plymouth was fair game - and yes, there was definitely turkey on the menu, as well as swan and passenger pigeon. But being British, the colonists would have still thought duck or goose to be the preferred bird for a feast. There was corn - porridge or cornbread - venison and (not often thought of as part of Thanksgiving cuisine) mussels, eels and lobster. There were onions and chestnuts, and winter berries - A distant, non-hallucinogenic cousin of cannabis, the Hackenberry, may well have been on the table.
The earliest actual account of cannabis being imported to the New World is from Chile in 1545, brought in by the Spanish, again for the fiber, but there are reports of it being brought in by African Slaves even earlier. Pots' earliest use as medication/intoxicant in the Americas is somewhat debatable, although the Africans probably had some idea as to what to do with it. The probability, though, is that all it's uses were discovered early on (waaaay BCE), and it's been known and utilized in every way since then.
Once introduced, hemp was a huge crop, an essential component of life in North America. In 1762, Virginia awarded bounties to growers and manufacturers of hemp, and penalized those who weren't. The earliest and definitive mention of cannabis being grown as a drug is found in the letters of THE founding father, George Washington, where he records separating the female hemp plants from the males. "Rather too late", is his famous phrase, meaning the males had already started to pollinate the females - a clear indication of cultivation for it's therapeutic effects. Jefferson also grew hemp and has left behind statements suggesting he also knew of marijuana's intoxicating qualities.
Hemp's importance as a cash crop led to many trade disputes with the British, whose policy interfered with hemp trade for a while after the American Revolution - England subsidized Irish hemp as a way to eat into Yankee sales. Huge hemp plantations flourished, for a time, in Mississippi, Georgia, California, South Carolina, Nebraska, and the center of production, Kentucky. As Kentuckian, James L. Allen put it, "the roads of Kentucky were early made necessary by the hauling of hemp".
The production of cotton and the importation of cheap hemp from elsewhere caused the hemp economy to decline, but never completely replaced it. As late as 1937, when cannabis prohibition put the kabosh on the industry, American hemp production persisted, the bulk of it again in Kentucky, also in Wisconsin and Illinois. After decades of hemp production, wild cannabis is prolific throughout much of the midwest, largely in Kansas and Nebraska. I can personally attest that the Oral Roberts Institute was literally surrounded by wild marijuana when I visited it in the 1960's.
But the good news is that we have it today, and the Weed with Roots in Health is an honored guest at many a holiday feast, sharing the table with what has come to be honored as the traditional spread - turkey, potatoes, green beans, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. Not sure about the eels, though some folks may have evolved a Thanksgiving sushi tradition. Diversity is good.
And still more good news - BASA is open on Thanksgiving from 9am to 4pm, for those arranging festivities at the last minute.